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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Woodpeckers has a new "slab flattening mill pro" which looks pretty sweet, but like so many things, with the looks comes the high maintenance, (price tag, like a fine piece of art). Anyways, my question is, do any of you have any idea where to get nice sliding components, like I see they used on their assembly? I'd like to build my own for a lot less, if possible.

Thanks.
 

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lots of plans here on this site for them..
they are called skis..
 
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Here is a pix of the one Harry Sinclair made. Very adjustable. Other pictures are of other versions that are simpler. You can raise and lower them with shims, a little thickness of wood under the side rails.

If what you are trying to level is twisted or bowed, you use wedges to level it up. Once you finish flattening the first side, you have a flat surface to level the second.

On Harry's router skis, you level the rod to the top of the piece, or on top of wood stacked to the height of your finished workpiece, then another piece on top of that to raise level of the rods. You will need two identical stacks to make sure the rods are perfectly parallel. The middle sled uses extruded aluminum and you slide the rig across very flat 2x bars as you move up and down the piece.

Although there are wide, flat bits for this purpose, I suggest you get one like the one pictured to avoid any gouging if the router sticks or slips. Pix attached of a bowl and tray bit. I think you can get them larger. Overlap the passes, of course.
You can adjust the router bit height on either version as well, but you want the tracks level and parallel.
 

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Forgot to answer your question. I have two Woodpecker items, but won't buy this one. It is overpriced like crazy and any one of the three pix I posted will work equally well and cost much less. Note that two of the ones I posted include a wide base on which the router mount rests and slide.

The bottom on that is ply, cut square so the outriggers are parallel and fixed. The outriggers allow you to adjust plunge depth at will. You can also wedge the twisted work piece easily on the ply. I really liked the idea of marking the spacing for each pass on the outrigger, although it is not necessary.

Most of the bits seem to be 1 1/2 with a quarter inch radius, so the flat cutting surface is only about an inch per pass, maybe less.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I am familiar with Harry's design, I was looking for something more along the lines of the Woodpeckers design, with nylon or HDPE runners.
 
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For others edification, here's a video of the mill, and the price is 899.99 for the model with rails. $399.99 for the carriage part only, you make your own rails. Not quite sure where the HDPE comes into play. To ease the sliding action, lay in strips of low friction tape. But Woodpecker products are really beautiful. I think their red is th same shade as a Ferrari's paint job.

 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
For others edification, here's a video of the mill, and the price is 899.99 for the model with rails. $399.99 for the carriage part only, you make your own rails. Not quite sure where the HDPE comes into play. To ease the sliding action, lay in strips of low friction tape. But Woodpecker products are really beautiful. I think their red is th same shade as a Ferrari's paint job.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vqlLmOL9Zzo&feature=emb_logo
So, I guessed on the HDPE. I was concerned about galling with aluminum on aluminum, so that's where this sort of started. Thank you for responding, and I do like the idea of low friction tape. I'll continue to work this out in my head then finally in the shop.
 
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Hi Jack,

If you keep the plastic base on the router, and make that ultra simple aluminum extrusion jig, you shouldn't have that galling problem. I always try to add information, not just for the poster, but for others who will come along and see it. No criticism is ever intended or implied.

I am curious about what kind of wood are you planning to flatten? For example, flattening a 4 inch thick rough chunk of a tree is quite different than flatting some slightly warped, 6inch wide piece of HD lumber.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
A friend has asked me to flatten a 30" disk of 2" oak for an end table he wants to build, but I have never made any router skis, so this seemed like a good time to invest in a solid set, but no, not at $800 to $1000.
 

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I think Woodpecker's idea was based on an article in Fine Woodworking by Nick Offerman. https://www.finewoodworking.com/2011/09/29/level-big-slabs-in-no-time-flat There are lots of options for building it. I made one similar to Nick's years ago after making a workbench by laminating 2 x lumber together. Despite being as careful as I could it didn't turn out dead flat so I had to make a sled to level it. One thing you should decide is how much you'll use it and that might dictate how elaborate it gets.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
I think Woodpecker's idea was based on an article in Fine Woodworking by Nick Offerman. https://www.finewoodworking.com/2011/09/29/level-big-slabs-in-no-time-flat There are lots of options for building it. I made one similar to Nick's years ago after making a workbench by laminating 2 x lumber together. Despite being as careful as I could it didn't turn out dead flat so I had to make a sled to level it. One thing you should decide is how much you'll use it and that might dictate how elaborate it gets.

That trough which guides the router, I'd like it to be aluminum extrusions because of height and weight. Having said that, I've never seen this article before, thank you for sharing this! It gives me more to wrestle with. Out in the shop I have a 100 or so copies of Fine Wood Working that someone gave me, I should go through them and see if this issue is in the mix. I'd really like to review the whole article.
 

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They would need to be some pretty wide extrusions to keep from flexing Jack, at least 3 to 4". Those start getting pretty pricey and you'd still need a way to join the bottom of the trough to the extrusions. With plywood on edge I think it rivals the aluminum for strength and it's easy to join the bottoms to the sides.

I see in Nick's version he took the slab and sat it on timbers on his work bench and then clamped the sled to the timbers. Woodpecker shows their system mounted on a sheet of ply so I don't know what the height range is. Maybe you have to add blocks between their rails and the ply sheet if it's something thick. Anyway that is another issue you have to consider is how thick the pieces and how to set the sled up to deal with it. Most of that kind of thing is a one-of for me so I engineer a one-of solution and then usually dismantle the whole thing to keep from cluttering up my shop with jigs I won't need for 10 years at least (or maybe ever again).

When I flattened my work bench I built a sled like Offerman's, minus the boxes at the ends. I'd have to examine Nick's sled closer but maybe the boxes are there for height adjustment. I didn't need heigth adjustment past what my router was capable of as I only needed to take off maybe 1/4". I erected a 3/4" sheet of mdf on either side of the bench and cross braced them together and those became my rails. The sled just slid across the edges of the sheets of mdf. The trough on mine was just wide enough so I could slide my big plunge across it. With an 1 1/2" straight bit from Lee Valley it took me maybe 45 minutes to flatten an eight foot bench.
 

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Orange Aluminum and 8020 Inc. sell extrusions which would likely allow one to make something like this fairly inexpensively. It wouldn't be that pretty anodized red color, but with the money saved you would likely be able to buy something else for yourself, claiming to SWMBO "look at all the money I saved, honey!".
 

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HI all, just thinking a bit about that aluminum jig. Why not place to longer pieces of aluminum L bracket to make the rails? That would work just fine and be very easy. You want the rail parallel and a fairly tight fit on the brackets on the ends of the jig. You might find a rectangular extrusion that's a little taller, You probably don't want this thing longer thanb 60 inches, which is just right for BB ply, so it stays flat. Voila, there's your whole Woodpecker gadget for about $60 bucks.

I'd make the platform first, then add the rails. Use two pieces of scrap to space the rails to make sure they're parallel, and start them from the top of the ply so they're even. Then make the jig and fit it to the rails. Fit the end and side pieces and fix them in place with clamps and drill holes to secure it. I'd use rivits to assemble it, at least three per end. I'd also use an engineer's square to make sure the jig was square as possible, and a short chunk of scrap ripped to a hair more than the diameter of the plunge base. If you really wanted to complicate your life, you could make a square base for the router, that that would be completely unnecessary.
 

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Mine is based on 3/8" acrylic with reinforced edges. The DW plunge router is screwed in place and the sled moves across the rails (from Rockler) which are bolted to the T-tracks on the table. The rail tops are covered with slick tape and faced with 3/4 mdf. I enclosed the cutting board with 3/4" fir to prevent tear out on the edges and keep the bit away from the mdf on the rails. The board to be planed is leveled on a sheet of ply with wedges if needed.

I typically use a bowl bit as Tom suggested but for this one I tried a 2" Whiteside bottom surfacing bit which worked very well.
 

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